By: Geoff Johns (writer), Doug Mahnke (penciller), Christian Alamy & Keith Champagne (inkers), David Baron (colorist)

The Story: It’s easy to see who’s the bad cop in this pairing.

The Review: While comics mostly serve as escapist fiction, that doesn’t mean they can’t bear commentary on real life as well.  A lot of writers seem to neglect the fact that our superheroes’ lives off-duty can be just as fascinating and entertaining as all the crime-fighting they engage in on a daily basis.  After all, we readers live in the real world; it’s incredibly fun to watch these empowered icons come down to Earth and deal with all the “normal” stuff we do.

For that reason, it feels a bit premature for Sinestro to call Hal’s civilian life a travesty before Hal really has a chance to live it.  No one thought for a second that Johns would keep Hal from the Corps for too long, but keeping him out of costume for just over an issue doesn’t seem like that much of a burden.  Since Hal’s demotion was quite a significant plot twist from the last arc, you’d think we’d get more out of it than a failed dinner date with Carol and an eviction notice.

But anyway, we had to come to this point sooner or later, so let’s just take it for what it is, which is mostly Hal ranting and raving while Sinestro acts like his usual superior self.  Johns knows these characters backwards and forwards, so he can’t write them any other way than credibly, but that doesn’t prevent the interaction from getting rather repetitive as the issue goes on.

The whole crux of the exchange lies in the question of whether Hal will accept Sinestro’s offer of a power ring, even if it means becoming the villain’s lap dog.  The answer should be a no-brainer, but Hal seems less inclined to reject the bargain than you think.  For better or worse, the former Green Lantern’s become attached to having a ring on his finger, and as his disastrous brush with Carol last issue proves, he’s not about to replace it with an engagement band.

To be fair, Sinestro has a pretty compelling reason to entice Hal to his side, even if temporarily.  With his home world enslaved by his former followers, Sinestro doesn’t exactly have much love for what his self-named corps has become, and you can’t deny that freeing a planet from the tyranny of a bunch of (literal) fear-mongers has a certain nobility to it.  It’s also interesting how, knowing he’d never get any Green Lantern to aid him, he goes to his greatest enemy for help.

Along the way, Sinestro even goes out of his way to indulge in some Earth-style super-heroics, and proving pretty good at it too, even upstaging Hal’s efforts, even though Hal’s been doing this for years.  Ostensibly, he tries to make the point that a Lantern can be more than a guy in a skintight costume making giant baseball mitts out of light, but what he’s really doing is showing that, had he chosen to, he had the chops and will to be the finest Lantern of all.

Mahnke is a master of action storytelling of the first degree.  Every panel of every page drives forward a sense of movement; he has an instinct for recognizing which angle would best serve the scene of each panel.  The sequence of the collapsing bridge says it all: a wide shot from the POV of an observing helicopter; a profile view of a car and its passengers about on the verge of slipping off; the interior of the car, watching the man trying to hand his son to the people just out of reach on the bridge.  Mahnke enhances each emotional beat by choice of perspective alone.

Conclusion: A solid outing from one of DC’s crowd-pleasing titles, but mostly setup for the big action of next issue, not really a game-changer in terms of plot or character in itself.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Trust Mahnke to go for the most creative, revealing energy constructs.  Sinestro shapes a hard-light facsimile of himself, using his nonplussed face as a shield and a giant replica of his hand to pluck at Hal’s suit jacket.  Can we say egomaniacal, folks?